Plant Growth with Enzymes, a Vital Soil Component
Let’s take a step back to the basics of complex molecular breakdown. Enzymes are naturally occurring compounds that are present almost everywhere, responsible for chemically breaking down complex nutrients or molecular structures that are essential in processes and conditions like digestion and biodegradation. Should either of the two cease on themselves life would either be very different from what we know it to today or it would be almost impossible for life to bloom. This helps us derive that enzymatic presence has been thriving among the key ingredients like carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, etc, the key ingredients that make life possible. So, wherever you find life, know that there are numerous enzymes working their magic for maintaining the overall balance through the process of creation, degradation, and regeneration.
Plants require enzymes for the absorption of necessary nutrients, carrying out photosynthesis and so on and whenever an animal or plant ceases to be alive, they break down too, due to the microbial contribution which pushes for enzyme secretion resulting in decomposition and finally ends up in the ground. This results in nitrogen-enriched soil while also being subject to furthermore enzymatic activity, enriches the soil and breaks down molecules of nitrogen, phosphorus, etc into compounds that are easily absorbable for healthy plant growth. As an example, Science has learned that plants make their own food through a conversion process called Photosynthesis. Plants absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide for processing sugars which conveniently lets out oxygen in the atmosphere as a counter-reaction, naturally, enzymes are involved but to what extent is yet to be understood. Plants also possess an entire network of root venations that plant-science studies are hypothesizing that they resemble the nervous system and function as a means to communicate via chemical impulses however, what we do know for sure is that plants use the roots for extracting essential nutrients and minerals like nitrogen and phosphorus from the soil, although, unlike photosynthesis, it relies on extracellular microbial enzymatic-activity for breaking down phosphorus and nitrogen-rich compounds into a form that plants can easily absorb.
Enzymes are well known to play a substantial role and seen as vital activators in so many processes, one of particular interest is in maintaining soil health and its environment. A unique balance of chemical, physical, and biological (including microbial especially enzyme activities) components contribute to maintaining soil health. To recover from disturbances, such as drought, climate change, pest infestation, pollution, and human exploitation, healthy soils are essential for the integrity of terrestrial ecosystems to remain intact,
A thorough application of soil enzymes is a critical factor in assuring that soil remains healthy to protect and support the terrestrial environment and supports all its life forms, is therefore of high priority.
To maintain soil ecology, its physical and chemical properties, fertility and health, soil enzymes continuously play an important role.
All soils contain a group of enzymes that include oxidoreductases, hydrolases and transferases that determine soil metabolic processes which, in turn, depend on the physical, chemical, microbiological, and biochemical properties that revive arid and unfertile soil.
Enzymes in soils interact with the surrounding soil constituents. These include minerals, nutrients, and rhizosphere among numerous others. Enzymes are biocatalysts that speed up essential biochemical reactions for plants and rhizobacteria while contributing to nutrient recycling and stabilizing the soil by degrading wastes.
Enzymes for Plant Growth- The Benefits
The nutritional quality of the soil can be improved by introducing enzyme-producing microbes or agricultural enzymatic formulations along with adding other natural media. When added to soil, Proteases degrade proteins and increase the amount of available nitrogen in the soil, thus improving soil fertility. To increase bioavailable nitrogen levels that are beneficial for plant nutrition urease can play a role when added. Reducing dependence on harmful chemical fertilizers whilst improving crop yield at the same time, the introduction of custom enzymes to the soil promotes rhizobacteria that promote essential plant growth.
Soil enzymes also play a crucial role in soil remediation. Soil suffers from various forms of pollution and through impurities like heavy metals, polyphosphate rocks, urea, starch, and cellulose residues. Contrary to popular belief, animal and plant fats are also not easily absorbed. Enzymes and selected microbes synergistically break down these residuals into compost, quickly making the soil fertile, and releasing valuable nutrients as a readily available source for plant nutrition.
Agricultural Enzymes- Sources
The source of soil enzymes can be microbes, plants, and animals. There are numerous enzymes found in the soil. Commercially enzymes are sourced from microbe cultures of both fungi and bacteria. Though bacterial cultivation is an easy process compared to fungi, fungi have a larger portfolio of enzymes that can work in extreme conditions.
Key enzymes that support and promote plant growth
Soil microbes thrive on dead root cells, called exudates, a carbon-rich compound, powering their growth and activities that result in enzyme secretion that processes nutrients for plant absorption. Soils for agricultural purposes predominately lack microbial activity, contents beneficial for retaining soil fertility are introduced in the soil or in other cases synthesized enzymes like phosphatase, chitinases and proteases.
Phosphorus, one of the key pillars on which life rests, is highly crucial for energy to move through the system, therefore it is essential for the phenomena called life to set its course in action and in the case of plants we already know how this mineral is made available to them. Although, over time and numerous seasons minerals and salts like phosphorus tend to accumulate with other residuals and form clusters, a condition known as occlusion. The only way the mineral is accepted for assimilation is as dissolved phosphate and plants rely on phosphatase, usually produced by bacteria, fungi, dead roots, etc, for the conversion of organic phosphorus into plant-available forms of phosphate.
Plant growth and health are dependent on various other factors not just the key elements of Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Phosphorus, and Sulfur. Plants continue to be exposed to various other bacterial and virus attacks, most plants are often victims to diseases caused by fungi and nematodes, also known to be the most common and predominant microbes responsible for poor yields in the context of agriculture and farming, which targets plant-immunity and degrades the overall health of the organism.
Plants, just like humans rely on nutrients for building immunity against pathogens and diseases, Chitinases is an enzyme that works similarly for plants by enhancing their defence against fungal species like Fusarium, Botrytis and Magnaporthe some of the most common pathogens that affect plant-crop throughout the globe. Chitinolytic enzymes, act aggressively on a key component within the cell wall of a fungal organism called chitin which renders the deterioration of its cell wall while leaving the host plant intact and fostering its growth in terms of yields.
Protease primarily carries out the molecular breakdown of protein-rich compounds, called proteolysis which aids in breaking down nitrogenous compounds and degrading harmful proteins and ensuring the supply of essential amino acids. Like all organisms, plants require amino acids which are broken down proteins and essential for ensuring cellular homeostasis, while posing as a watchdog that regulates antigens, immunity-response, reproduction, growth and development, embryogenesis, photosynthesis, etc,
Soil enzymes and select microbes play a key role in plant growth. They render nutrient-rich soil, decrease composting time, build plant immunity, and reduce the use of chemical fertilizers. Achieving clean feedstock with enzymatic formulations is a novel approach to replacing traditional fertilizer control. A true circular organic food system should start with soil preparation through to the process phase eliminating the need for inorganic inputs to ensure feedstock is contaminant free.